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WARREN Candid cameras trained on money



Published: Wed, May 1, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Cameras point to the safe door, in the lobby and sign-in area and to the cashiers at the water department.

By DENISE DICK

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- While handling money, employees of the city water department are either on camera or accompanied by another person.

"They'll never be alone with money," Mayor Hank Angelo said.

That's one of the procedural changes at the department since a special state audit reported a finding for recovery for $26,036 against the department's former head cashier.

Debra Dunewood has not been charged with a crime and was approved for a disability retirement Feb. 13, 2001. The money has been recovered through a bonding company.

Angelo and Bob Davis, the city's newly appointed water utility director, explained the changes Tuesday to members of council's finance committee.

Davis said the department includes three cashiers with separate locking drawers for each, one camera at their work station and one in the safe. Duplicate keys are held at the auditor's office.

"The safe has an inner-locking door that requires two keys to open," Davis said.

The outer safe door is on a time lock, and a camera is on the safe door.

Councilman Gary Fonce, D-at large, expressed concerns about security measures being discussed in an open forum. Fred Harris, safety-service director, said there are additional measures not discussed publicly.

The office's two consumer-service representatives are responsible for their deposits daily, and there are additional cameras on the cashiers and in the lobby and sign-in room.

"Anywhere you're dealing with cash, there is a camera," Davis said.

If a correction must be made to a payment made by a customer, the cashier cannot edit the payment.

"They could before, and there was no audit trail," Davis said.

The cashier must void the receipt and redo it. "The voided receipt remains in the system," he said.

At the end of the business day, a report is run displaying totals. Cashiers must complete a deposit sheet and place cash, checks and the deposit slip in the safe.

"When the deposit slip is done, it's looked over by the office manager, which wasn't done before, and then it goes to my desk and I look over it as well," Davis said.

The department no longer has a head cashier, Harris said. The balance procedure rotates randomly each day.

Bank deposits are made daily by the supervisor and a technician with a police escort.

FBI agents and city police have been investigating for about a year whether a possible scam to divert funds was under way at the water department.

Last week, city auditor David Griffing and his brother Richard, the water department office manager, were charged with two counts each of misdemeanor dereliction of duty, accused of failing to make sure daily bank deposits were made.

Investigators have said additional arrests are possible.

According to the state audit, the head cashier sometimes delayed depositing money, showing & quot;a potential lapping scheme & quot; to divert cash and delay deposits until & quot;sufficient subsequent receipts are accumulated to cover the amount diverted."

dick@vindy.com




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